©Helsinki Deaconess Institute

This year, our member in Finland Helsingin Diakonissalaitos (Helsinki Deaconess Institute) turns 150. To mark the occasion the Institute has published a booklet, looking back on its work through the years, titled Ihmisen arvo – Helsingin Diakonissalaitos 150 vuotta (Human Dignity – 150 Years of the Helsinki Deaconess Institute).

”The book paints a picture of the growth of the small hospital for infectious diseases and the deaconesses’ sister’s home into an institution providing social, health and educational services. It also depicts the role of diaconal work in dealing with social problems, especially in those areas where society has been weak and vulnerable”, says the author Dr Jyrki Paaskoski.

Paaskoski says that the starting point for his study was to connect the Deaconess Institute’s 150-year history to the bigger picture of the development of Finnish society, and the changes that took place within it. In particular, the publication provides a basis for reflecting on the transitions and turning points of the discourse between diaconal work, church, and state.

From the perspective of recent history, it is interesting to examine how the institute adapted to the downfall of the welfare state that started with the depression of the 1990s, and how it became a versatile producer of social services.

With the advent of the 2000s the Helsinki Deaconess Institute was no longer an intermittent complement to the social welfare and service system, but was a part of the service chain of the country’s welfare state. Its client base comprises the most demanding cases of clients who are homeless alcoholics or drug addicts.

The institute’s various phases within its long history have involves ups and downs in diaconal work. Paaskoski thinks that as it turns 150 the institute is once more in transition and perhaps on the threshold of a new era of diaconal work. The reform of the social and health care system (known as the Sote reform), which has been under preparation for years, is nearing completion, and it will have an impact on the activities of the Deaconess Institute.

To know more about Helsinki Deaconess Institute, have a look at the latest publication about its 150 years of activity (EN).